French soldiers patrol the Part-Dieu railway station in Lyon as part of a security plan after last week's Islamic militant attacks, January 16, 2015. (Reuters)
A Moroccan man was stabbed to death in his own home in southern France in what a Muslim group called a “horrible Islamophobic” attack the week after France was rocked by the Charlie Hebdo killings.
The 28-year-old attacker forced the front door of his neighbours’ house in the picturesque village of Beaucet near Avignon just after midnight on Wednesday shouting “I am your god, I am your Islam” before repeatedly stabbing Mohamed El Makouli, he National Observatory Against Islamophobia said Friday.
The 47-year-old man was disarmed but later returned with another knife and attacked the father-of-one again, this time killing him.
His 31-year-old partner tried to save him, and suffered wounds to her hands, before fleeing with their young child to call the police, officials said.
An autopsy showed El Makouli had been stabbed 17 times.
Prosecutors in Avignon confirmed that a man had been charged on Thursday with “murder, attempted murder and possession of drugs”, before being committed to a psychiatric hospital in nearby Montfavet.
“The Islamophobic aspect will be investigated when we interview this boy who claims to have heard voices,” a spokesman added.
Observatory president Abdallah Zekri condemned the attack “as a horrible Islamophobic attack” and claimed that the victim’s partner was very clear about what the man shouted. “She is sure of what he (the attacker) said,” he told AFP.
The regional Muslim council said that while it was waiting for “the conclusions of the enquiry”, it feared the climate of suspicion and hostility after last week’s Paris terror attacks were having an effect on “the most fragile of our fellow citizens”.
Justice Minister Christiane said Friday the government was going to stiffen laws against racism and anti-Semitism, and wants to give the authorities powers to block Internet hate sites “as already happens with ones that carry child pornography”.
More than 50 anti-Muslim incidents including attacks on mosques have been recorded by the Central Council of Muslims in France since the Paris shootings by three Islamist gunmen left 17 dead, including 12 at the offices of the satirical Charlie Hebdo weekly.
A source close to the investigation of the Beaucet murder said he did not think it was “a purely Islamophobic act,” although he admitted that the events of the past week could have “stirred up fear and a rise in adrenaline”. He said the alleged attacker was in an incoherent state when he was arrested near the scene.